Friday, April 5, 2013 11:14am
Pinellas sheriff says civil liberties bill would protect drug dealers, pedophiles
"When a Florida sheriff sternly accuses state legislators of protecting drug dealers and child pornographers, it has a way of getting people's attention.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri made that assertion in fighting a bill filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, dealing with police access to information stored on citizens' portable electronic devices such as cellphones and iPads.
The controversy, also raging in other states, involves personal privacy, public safety and changing technology at a time when a related case is pending before the Florida Supreme Court.
Brandes, citing the importance of a constitutional right to privacy, wants to change state law to require police to obtain a warrant from a judge before searching cell phone contents. His bill would remove the current exception that allows warrantless searches of devices in what's known as a search incident to arrest, where an arrested person could hide or destroy relevant evidence."